How to become a Psychologist

Psychologists study human behaviour and the processes associated with how people think and feel, conduct research and provide treatment and counselling in order to reduce distress and behavioural and psychological problems. They promote mental health and positive behaviour in individuals and groups. Psychologists work on a broad range of issues with clients, including children, adults, couples, families and organisations.

Personal requirements of a Psychologist

  • Interested in people and human behaviour
  • Able to solve problems
  • An inquisitive mind
  • Emotional maturity and empathy for others
  • Patient and perceptive
  • Good oral and written communication skills

Education & Training for a Psychologist

To become a psychologist you usually have to complete a degree with a major in psychology or a four-year Bachelor of Psychology. This is followed by either an accredited two-year postgraduate qualification (majoring in a specialisation of psychology) or two years of supervised experience with a registered psychologist. Psychology can be studied as a major in an arts, social science or science degree. The fourth year of bachelor degree study, which is needed to satisfy registration requirements, may be undertaken as an honours year in the Bachelor of Psychology degree or as a Graduate Diploma of Psychology. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education with English. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Additional Information

The Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) sets the standards for accreditation of Australasian psychology programs, ensuring that the standards of training remain rigorous and consistent across universities. For students to be eligible for registration, they must study a course that is accredited by APAC. Visit their website (www.psychologycouncil.org.au) for an up-to-date list of approved courses of study. Following successful completion of an approved qualification, students who completed a four-year sequence of study followed by a two-year internship will need to pass the National Psychology Exam in order to gain general registration. It is a legal requirement for graduates to be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia before being able to practise as a psychologist in any state or territory in Australia. The Australian Psychological Society (APS) offers membership options to students who are studying an approved course. Visit their website for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Psychologist

Psychologists: • conduct therapeutic interviews and provide counselling • give psychological tests and assess the results to identify the source of problems and determine treatment • construct tests to assess and predict mental and emotional states, as well as performance • evaluate the results of programs aimed at improving personal and organisational effectiveness • research psychological aspects of topics such as study motivation, teaching skills, occupational behaviour, working conditions and organisational structures • provide follow-up services to groups and individuals for support and evaluation purposes • contribute to government social policy development • conduct academic research.

Employment Opportunities for a Psychologist

Psychologists are employed by government and privately run community welfare organisations and by hospitals, industry and the Australian Defence Force. They are also employed in private practices and in private health clinics. Many psychology graduates do not find work as psychology specialists but are employed in positions where they can use the skills learnt through their psychology training. Research skills are especially useful in market research, advertising, management or business consultancy. Other areas that provide employment for psychologists include social welfare, community work, human resource management, training, teaching and lecturing, and clerical and administrative work.

Avg. weekly wage:

$1,934

Future growth:

Very strong

Employment by state:

ACT ACT 2.9%

NSW NSW 34.9%

NT NT 0.5%

QLD QLD 17.2%

SA SA 5.3%

TAS TAS 2.2%

VIC VIC 27.8%

WA WA 9.2%

Hours worked:

36

Unemployment:

Lower unemployment

Gender split:

Male 17.1%

Female 82.9%

Education level:

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 21.5%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 78.5%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0%

20-24 - 2.7%

25-34 - 26.3%

35-44 - 20.3%

45-54 - 23.9%

55-59 - 8.4%

60-64 - 10.9%

65 and Over - 7.6%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

Related careers